The House General Investigating Committee has set an August 12 hearing to look into a secretly recorded meeting between Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) and Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan. Only invited witnesses will be able to testify before the committee, according to a notice of public hearing posted on the Legislature’s web site.
In a letter to Rep. Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth), the committee’s vice chair, Chair Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) said he looked “forward to working with you and our other committee members in bringing transparency, information access and accountability to this matter, and ensuring that we protect the integrity of our state government.” Collier requested Meyer begin an investigation earlier today (Wednesday), and it appears Meyer had already begun the process in a discussion with committee staff last night (Tuesday).
Meanwhile, at least three Republican members whom Sullivan said were targeted by Bonnen and Burrows have released statements highly critical of the Speaker:
- Yesterday (Tuesday), Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) said in a statement that he found Bonnen’s “reckless ambition to be absolutely disgusting.”
- Later yesterday, after we had published our story on the matter, we learned Rep. Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton) told the Wharton Journal-Spectator’s Shannon Crabtree that “the honorable thing” for Bonnen to do is “at minimum resign as Speaker.” Stephenson said he and the other nine members are seeking a “private meeting” with Bonnen.
- Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) said in a statement issued today (Wednesday) that Bonnen’s recent apology, while appreciated, “does not change the inescapable realities and consequences of the facts.” Allison said Bonnen and Burrows “maliciously attacked and maligned House members who have faithfully represented their individual districts,” and the two should be “held accountable for their actions.” All three have said they listened to the recording. “It’s exactly as Michael Quinn Sullivan said,” Stephenson said.
Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), a member of the General Investigating Committee, said in a Facebook post that “we should not rush to judgment, but we should not drag our feet either. We should not condemn anyone arbitrarily but also must not be scared to move forward if we find evidence of wrongdoing.”
In a series of tweets, Sullivan criticized “cowardly and sycophantic” Republican legislators who defended, or at least accepted the apology of, Bonnen and his “unethical offer and ongoing lies.” As far as we can tell, Sullivan has not publicly commented on the hearing notice.
Others who have said they heard the recording, including Travis Co. Republican Party Chair Matt Mackowiak and Republican consultant Brendan Steinhauser, have said the recording leaves “no ambiguity” that “Sullivan’s description is accurate.” Mackowiak also tweeted that he saw “no reason” why the recording should not be released in its entirety.
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